Lawmakers and leaders in the limousine industry are demanding change after the horrific crash on Long Island last weekend that killed four of the eight women riding inside a limo while they were on a winery tour.
The limo was trying to make a U-turn at the intersection of County Route 48 and Depot Lane in Southold when a pickup truck plowed into them, Town of Southold police said. The pickup truck driver was later arrested on DWI charges.
A witness heading eastbound who reported seeing the "entire crash" told authorities the limo "was turning right in front of the truck and the crash occurred at that point," according to District Attorney Thomas Spota.
"There's not a member in my association that's not broken up about this," said Robert Cunningham, president of the Long Island Limousine Association, which represents more than 80 companies and 700 limo drivers on Long Island.
"The owner of the company hasn't slept since it happened. He is just beside himself," said Cunningham.
Spota said U-turns at the accident site are not prohibited, but limo drivers have been getting summonses for the way they are making the turns. They have to "swing way out" and "many are virtually blocking the two westbound lanes" as they turn around, Spota said.
Cunningham has issued a bulletin to all association members asking them to "please tell your drivers not to make a U-turn" on County Route 48 in Southold until safety measures are addressed by officials. "Go down the street and turn around," the message said.
Cunningham also said in the message that he has spoken with the police commissioner of Southold and he will be meeting with him to "help prevent anything like this from ever happening again."
"People need to pay attention when they drive," said Suffolk County lawmaker Al Krupski, who told NBC 4 New York the blinking lights at the accident scene will be changed to a stoplight, likely late in the fall. He added that "this isn't going to solve every accident."
Twenty-three-year-old Amy Grabina, 24-year-old Lauren Baruch, 23-year-old Stephanie Belli and 23-year-old Brittney Schulman were killed in Saturday's crash. Four other women, including a young bride, were injured. The group was out celebrating a birthday at the time of the crash.
Funeral services were held for Grabina and Baruch were held on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.
Baruch was remembered as someone who "just did everything right," according to Lorry Sullivan, her former babysitter.
"You teach your kids to do the right thing, and it's just not fair," she said.
Earlier this week, Steven Romeo, 58, of Bethpage, pleaded not guilty to a charge of driving while intoxicated from his hospital bed at Eastern Long Island Hospital, about an hour's drive from Stony Brook University Hospital.
The limousine driver showed no evidence of being influenced by drugs or alcohol at the scene, Spota said, and chemical tests confirmed he was not intoxicated at the time of the accident.
The limo driver, Carlos Pino, 58, of Bethpage, was also taken to an area hospital with injuries but was expected to survive.